Selecting CSO partners
It is important to recognise that 'CSO' is a broad category, with no legal definition. Such entities are highly diverse, for example representing environmental groups, minority groups, consumer representatives and patient organisations. Additionally, the varied interpretation of this term means that different kinds of organisations may be defined or define themselves as a CSO. This diversity means that it is less important to be concerned about official definitions and categorisations, and more relevant to focus on the specific needs of the research in question.
Our study shows that early dialogue between the different partners results in much stronger collaboration within the research. Prior to finalising the funding bid it is important for researchers to reflect fully upon their expectations, and the reasons why they want to work with CSOs.
When selecting or recruiting CSOs in order to build a project, several questions may be worth considering:
is there room in the project for change or evolution according to the CSO's needs?
is this CSO able to give the input requested in the project?
is pluralism and diversity a strong characteristic within the project?
is it possible to adapt the management and global work plan to this collaboration?
If the answer to one or more of the above questions is yes, you will need to identify what kind of partner you need : end users, testers, evaluators, disseminators, experts, mediators. Do you intend to build a bottom up approach? Are you more interested in grassroots perspectives or in the private research sector? The National Contact Point within your country can help you identify potential partners.